OPINION: Government-controlled energy programs aren’t working

The Press-Enterprise

It’s clear government-controlled energy, or Community Choice Aggregation, is not delivering on its promises to provide greener and cheaper energy. CCAs are not delivering on the fundamental need of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So why are we seeing more CCAs, aka Community Choice Energy, surface in California? Why is the San Diego City Council considering forming what would be one of the largest government-controlled energy programs in the state? And just who is behind this scheme?

As San Diego’s former mayor, Jerry Sanders, pointed out recently, government-controlled energy programs are surfacing because cities are being forced to try and implement their own Climate Action Plans. But CCAs fall well short of achieving the goal of these plans: 100 percent renewable energy.

More importantly, unless additional renewable energy resources are constructed, California achieves no reduction in GHG emissions, only the appearance of such. Marketing cannot change that reality.

The extreme environmentalists who lobbied for climate action plans are now pushing CCAs onto cities, but they are not bankrolling the operations. If you follow the money it leads to out-of-state oil and energy wholesalers, including Calpine and Shell, who are helping to fund California’s CCA movement. Shell was involved in gaming California’s electric market, along with Enron, 18 years ago. These wholesalers want a piece of the Golden State’s energy market and they’re using CCAs as a Trojan horse to fatten their bottom line.

Ultimately, the taxpayers are on the hook if these government-run energy programs fail.

CCA’s legal construct, a joint powers authority or JPA, claims to shield cities and taxpayers from risk, but that’s not the whole story. JPA agreement contracts contain hooks that tie municipalities to the CCA. This assures energy wholesalers’ profits while ultimately leaving taxpayers holding the bag.

For example, California’s first CCA (Marin Clean Energy) is creditworthy only because taxpayers are on the hook if things go badly. That’s not according to me. That’s according to Moody’s.

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It is critical that we openly discuss all opportunities and options for achieving San Diego’s climate action goals. The choices we make today in implementing this bold policy vision will shape San Diego and the lives of its residents for generations to come, so we need to make sure we get this right. 

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